Throughout the UK the law can be difficult for professionals and the public to find and understand. The volume of legislation in England and Wales, the number of amendments and the way in which legislation is presented, make it increasingly difficult to find out what the law is and what it means. In Wales, the process of devolution has made matters even more complicated.
In a consultation opening on 9 July the Law Commission is asking what can be done to simplify legislation relating to Wales and make it more accessible.
There is often confusion over where responsibilities lie. Functions under many Acts of Parliament have been transferred to the Welsh Ministers, but this will not beapparent in the original Act and it could appear that power continues to lie with the Secretary of State.
The picture is made more complicated by the pace at which significant areas of the law applicable in Wales – such as education, health and housing – are diverging from the law in England.
In its consultation, the Law Commission is asking what can be done to make the existing law relating to Wales easier to use and understand. Could this include, for example, codification and consolidation? The Commission is also asking:
- what new measures could the National Assembly of Wales put in place to improve its systems for making law, and
- is there a need to establish a programme of consolidation or codification of the law applicable in Wales?
The consultation also considers issues relating to the making and interpretation of legislation in two languages.
Sir David Lloyd Jones, Chairman of the Law Commission, said: “For the law to be fair it must be capable of being understood. We are at a crucial moment in the development of the law relating to Wales. We have an excellent opportunity to pave the way for clearer, simpler, more modern and more accessible legislation, that is easily and freely available, and readily understood by professionals and the public.
“As the Welsh Assembly gains wider law-making powers, this is the time for us to consider carefully how the Government and the legal system can work together to make good law for Wales.”
The consultation is open until 9 October 2015. A consultation paper and more information are available via lawcom.gov.uk.
Notes for editors
Phil Hodgson, Head of External Relations: 020 3334 3305
Jackie Samuel: 020 3334 3648